Today, I helped my friend LH bury the love of her life. He died in March, the same week as Kirby Puckett and from the same thing: a stroke. He was cremated and his memorial service was in March, but she waited for the internment. He would have been 60 today.
I didn’t get to know DM very well. I met him only a few times but what I know is this: He loved LH with every cell of his being. He was a warm and open person who acted without hesitation to show friendship to LH’s friends; whether it was the 1st or 40th time he was with them.
He was kind, intelligent, funny and I wish I could have known him better.
Today we met at the cemetery in Marine on St. Croix to inter his ashes. There was a headstone, carved and prepared and a little white casket-like box containing the minerals and elements that were his earthly body.
There was a piper, for DM was Scotts-Irish. (He wore a kilt to LM’s 50th b-day party “prom.”) We got a rose to lay at the headstone at the end. Some of LH’s friends were there; some of the group of women I consider to be “cooler” older sisters, her parents, aunt, cousin, friends from work. And DM’s first wife was there with his daughter (about 14 or 15 yrs old, I think). His son, who lives in Utah now, was there with his wife and DM’s granddaughter. DM’s brothers and some other folks from “that side of the family.”
After ‘Amazing Grace’ his nephew led us in prayer, said a few words and opened it up to those gathered to share remembrances of DM. LH read a couple of things from a book her Aunt had given her at the funeral. Her hands shook as she stared and R’s mom had to hold the book for her. But she kept her voice steady (how do you do that??) Then, the nephew read the 23rd Psalm (but not in a translation that anyone could recite along with), led us in another prayer and that was it. LH’s aunt asked if we could say the Lord’s Prayer and then the piper started again.
I stood with R’s mom and watched the knots of people talking, laying down their flowers and generally not wanting to leave. R’s mom is from Jamaica and she told of her grandmother’s funeral, when she was 13. She remembered telling her mom, ‘We can’t leave Grandmommy here alone.’ No one said that but that was exactly the way it felt, the way it always feels at graveside. People linger, not wanting to leave the loved one there ‘alone.’
Eventually, we did wander back to our cars to go to the restaurant for the luncheon. I watched as the piper marched the devil away from the grave-site and LM walked with him. It wasn’t until then, in the car, watching that, that I cried the tears that needed to come for her.
Lest you begin to doubt, the thought did cross my mind that at some point, I too, will be attending my XH’s funeral.